Sometimes when you are gluten intolerant, there are unfortunately not a lot of entree options or choices on restaurant menus. Often, there might be a single item that is gluten free or that the chef can prepare gluten free.
I look for dishes that I prepare without gluten and often these are in restaurants, or can be made gluten free (and of course always confirm with your server, for any Celiac or intolerance, compared to a preference in your diet). It’s still amazing to me that servers sometimes don’t have a clue what gluten is (let alone what foods contain it!) I have had servers tell me after I told them I have a severe gluten intolerance, “so, you can’t have dairy”…hmmm, did I just miss something?
I think many restaurant staff are incredibly annoyed by people that have so many requests, but for those of us with severe sensitivity or Celiac, asking a multitude of questions, is the only way for us to eat out safely. So, we try to be as polite as possible, and show our appreciation for their attention to detail in keeping us safe, and we tip well.
Some of my go-to foods when dining out which may often be gluten free are: paella, steamed clams, a piece of broiled or grilled fish, and risottos. Some restaurants may have gluten free pasta and gluten free pasta sauces, which could also be a good choice.
Even in Italy, I found that seafood and risottos were an easy choice, as long as the server could confirm that there was no gluten in the broth or seasoning.
Risottos can be a full meal, although some may think of this dish as a side dish. This one is a one dish meal (well, maybe serve with some veggies or a green salad). You can use fresh chicken breasts, or even leftover rotisserie or roast chicken.
This risotto has some of my favorite flavors in it! I happen to love mushrooms and this dish is perfect with them. Pretty simple ingredients here, but do make sure to use a rice type that is good for making risotto, so you have the creamy texture without risking overcooking it. I like to use Arborio, which is an Italian short grain rice and Lundberg’s Arborio rice is labeled gluten free, which I need, but you might find another brand, maybe an Italian brand that also is gluten free, and either Arborio or Carnaroli rice. Both are great for making risotto, with Carnaroli rice being a medium grained rice, which is also slightly starchier than Arborio.
Just as you must use the correct rice when making risotto, the same rings true when making paella; always use a short grain rice from Spain that will yield the best results for making paella. Calaspara rice (grown in Calaspara, Spain) or Valencian rice (Bomba rice) grown in the Valencian region of Spain work well for creating authentic Spanish paellas! The result is crispy rice along the edges of the pan without the rice turning to mush. You may need to order these varieties online, but they will result in perfect paellas!
Eat well and stay well!
Chicken, Mushroom, and Sun Dried Tomato Risotto (Gluten Free)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in halves or ¾ pound of cooked roasted chicken or rotisserie chicken, shredded, or cut into 1 ½ x ¼” pieces
- 1/4 cup finely diced white onion
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 cup Lundberg Arborio rice, gluten free or another risotto preferred rice, gluten free
- 8 oz. cremini or white button mushrooms, washed, dried and sliced
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup dried sun dried tomatoes julienne sliced
- 3-4 sprigs thyme
- 4 1/2 cup chicken broth homemade or bought chicken broth, gluten free
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup water (if more liquid is needed)
- 1/4 cup finely grated cheese pecorino cheese, parmesan cheese, or sharp white cheddar cheese like Dubliner, freshly grated
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
- Salt and crushed black pepper to taste
- Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan, over medium low heat.
- Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over high heat. If using uncooked chicken breast, sear the chicken pieces, cooking until white is beginning to show along the edges and the bottom is browning and caramelized on one side. Turn over and continue cooking until a thermometer registers 160. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and cut in 1/4 inch thick slices on the diagonal. Cut in half if the pieces are too long. Set aside in a covered bowl.
- Add the butter to the skillet and heat to high heat. Saute the garlic together with the mushrooms until browned on both sides. Remove both to a plate.
- Add another 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil and saute the diced onion sprinkled with a ¼ teaspoon of salt, until it is just starting to brown and is soft in texture, over medium heat. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat. Cook for a few minutes until it smells “toasted”, stirring with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Add the white wine in to deglaze the pan. Use a large spoon or ladle to add about 1/3 cup of hot broth at a time, adding the sun dried tomatoes and thyme sprigs also at this time.
- Simmer and stir continuously with the wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding in the broth by ladleful, as the broth is absorbed, and continue to stir until the rice is just slightly undercooked, or al dente, about 15-18 minutes.
- Add the cooked chicken pieces or shredded pre cooked rotisserie or roasted chicken, and mushrooms back in and continue to cook over medium heat until the rice has finished cooking (and the pre cooked chicken is heated). Add a 1/2 -3/4 cup of water, as needed, to finish cooking the rice. Rice should be a creamy texture. Remove from heat. Remove the thyme sprigs. Sprinkle the grated cheese in, and stir. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and parsley and let sit a few minutes before serving.